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- ISBN: 9781335230003 :
- ISBN: 1335230009 :
- Physical Description: 299 pages ; 24 cm
- Publisher: Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Hanover Square Press, 
Book 1 in the St. John Strafford series.
Investigating the murder of a County Wexford priest in 1957, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford navigates harsh winter weather and the community's culture of silence to expose an aristocratic family's dangerous secrets.
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Publishers Weekly Review
Snow : A Novel
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Affecting prose and depth of characterization largely compensate for the predictable plot of this whodunit set in 1957 Ireland from Booker Prize winner Banville (The Secret Guests). One snowy day, Det. Insp. St. John Strafford arrives at the house of Colonel Osborne in County Wexford to investigate the murder of an overnight guest, Fr. Tom Lawless. That morning, the colonel's wife found Lawless on the library floor; he'd been stabbed in the neck and castrated. Strafford is dismayed to see how neatly the body is laid out with its hands clasped, and the colonel admits that he and at least one other member of his household did some tidying up. Strafford is later struck that, despite statements of affection for the Catholic priest, "No one was crying." Pressure from the archbishop of Dublin leads the death to be reported publicly as an accident. Strafford's inquiry follows standard lines, and the various reveals won't surprise genre fans. This is not one of Banville's best. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)
Snow : A Novel
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Booker Prize winner Banville has typically written crime fiction as Benjamin Black, but here he switches to his own name for a new mystery set in 1957 at the forbidding Ballyglass House, a country manor in Ireland's County Wexford. You know Banville is evoking the genre's Golden Age from the first words--"The body is in the library"--but, almost as quickly, you realize that this is not an Agatha Christie novel. Throughout, Banville decorates his deceptively complex mystery with literary flourishes ("the books stood shoulder to shoulder in an attitude of mute resentment") and uses familiar classical-era tropes to camouflage the darkness lurking below the surface. Our narrator is Detective Inspector St. John Strafford, a protestant in a Catholic country, called upon to solve the murder of a Catholic priest stabbed and castrated at the home of a reclusive protestant family. The closets of the Osborne clan are stuffed with kinky secrets, evoking the Sternwoods from Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, especially sultry daughter Lettie, a would-be vixen in the manner of thumb-sucking Carmen Sternwood. Strafford initially sees the case as straightforward but, fighting obstruction from the Catholic hierarchy, soon finds himself in another country altogether, where "everything swayed and wallowed," as the area is engulfed in a snowstorm, and the bodies accumulate. No order-restoring resolution here, in this brilliant mix of old tropes and sadly modern evil.